Sunday, June 02, 2013

Take the Money and Run

Directed and starring Woody Allen with a script written by Allen and Mickey Rose, Take the Money and Run is the story about the life and times of an inept criminal who tries to make a name for himself only to fail countless of times. Told in a documentary style the film chronicles a man trying to make it in the world of crime in order to make a name for himself. Also starring Janet Margolin, Louise Lasser, and narration by Jackson Beck. Take the Money and Run is a hilarious film from Woody Allen.

The film is about the life of Virgil Starkwell (Woody Allen) who tries to make his life as a criminal but constantly fails due to botched robberies and bad attempts. It is largely told in a documentary fashion just after Starkwell’s capture by the FBI as his story is told from not just recollections of the people in his life but also through Starkwell himself as he tells his story in voiceover to scenes where his life is told from childhood through adulthood where he eventually falls in love with a woman named Louise (Janet Margolin), have a child, and tries to make a honest living until he decides to continue his attempts to be a criminal. Through all of his failures, incarcerations, and other botched events, Virgil is still intent to make a name for himself as a criminal.

The screenplay by Woody Allen and Mickey Rose is told in a back-and-forth narrative where people talk about Virgil Starkwell’s life from childhood to adulthood as well as the events that happens during Virgil’s time as a criminal. Yet, there is a lot of humor in the fact that Virgil always tries to make it as a criminal or break out of prison but often fail through his own incompetence or something else happening that just make things worse. Yet, Virgil does find support in Louise who tries to get him to live a normal life with their child but he’s so inept in doing regular things as he is forced to accept the fact that he’s a criminal though he’s also inept in that as well. The situations that Allen and Rose create are full of absurdities including a moment where Virgil is blackmailed by a co-worker only for everything else to go wrong when Virgil tries to kill her.

Allen’s direction is very stylish for the fact that is told in a parody of sorts of the documentary genre that would be known as mockumentary. With Jackson Beck’s very straightforward narration, it does create the sense of illusion that Virgil Starkwell is a real individual. Allen’s approach to comedy definitely comes from slapstick while he also knows how to keep things in a very subtly in the comedy such as Virgil’s parents being interviewed as they’re wearing disguises on their face. There’s also moments where Allen is making fun of the prison films with an element of style while creating some compositions that help enhance its humor. Overall, Allen creates a very captivating and funny film about the life of an incompetent criminal.

Cinematographer Lester Shorr does nice work with the cinematography to create a look that is straightforward while using some lighting schemes for the scenes at night. Editors Paul Jordan and Ron Kalish, with additional contributions by Ralph Rosenblum, do excellent work with the editing to create some rhythmic cuts for the humor as well as some montages for the romantic moments between Virgil and Louise. Art director Fred Harpman and set decorator Marvin March do wonderful work with the set pieces from the prisons to the look of the banks that Virgil tries to rob. Sound mixer Bud Alper does terrific work with the sound to capture some of the atmosphere of the locations as well as some of the comical moments in the escapes. The film’s music by Marvin Hamlisch is delightful for its playful score filled with upbeat arrangements and pieces to play up the romance including a comical take on Quincy Jones’ Bossa Nova Soul.

The casting by Marvin Paige is amazing as it features notable appearances from Louise Lasser as a woman who was amazed by Virgil’s persona, James Anderson as the chain gang warden, Ethel Sokolow and Henry Leff as Virgil’s parents, Lonny Chapman as a convict who organizes a prison break only to cancel it unbeknownst to Virgil, Jacquelyn Hyde as a co-worker who tries to blackmail Virgil, and Marcel Hillaire as Fritz the Director as a filmmaker involved in the climatic robbery where things go wrong. Janet Margolin is fantastic as Louise as a woman who falls for Virgil though she worries about his criminal activities knowing how many times he’s failed. Woody Allen is brilliant as Virgil Starkwell as a man trying to make it as a criminal only to fail numerous times but refuses to give up as Allen makes the character very sympathetic but also so funny whether it’s trying to play cello in a parade or trying to escape with a gun made of a soap bar.

Take the Money and Run is a marvelous film from Woody Allen that is truly one of his early triumphs as well as a great example of his gifts as a comedy filmmaker. The film is definitely one of the most compelling comedies that takes apart the documentary and make it into a spoof of sorts about a criminal desperate to make a name for himself. In the end, Take the Money and Run is an entertaining and witty film from Woody Allen.

Woody Allen Films: What's Up Tiger Lily? - Bananas - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) - Sleeper - Love and Death - Annie Hall - Interiors - Manhattan - Stardust Memories - A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy - Zelig - Broadway Danny Rose - The Purple Rose of Cairo - Hannah and Her Sisters - Radio Days - September - Another Woman - New York Stories: Oedipus Wrecks - Crimes and Misdemeanors - Alice - Shadows & Fog - Husbands & Wives - Manhattan Murder Mystery - Don’t Drink the Water - Bullets Over Broadway - Mighty Aphrodite - Everyone Says I Love You - Deconstructing Harry - Celebrity - Sweet & Lowdown - Small Time Crooks - The Curse of the Jade Scorpion - Hollywood Ending - Anything Else - Melinda & Melinda - Match Point - Scoop - Cassandra’s Dream - Vicky Cristina Barcelona - Whatever Works - You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - Midnight in Paris - To Rome with Love - Blue Jasmine - Magic in the Moonlight - Irrational Man - (Cafe Society)

The Auteurs #24: Woody Allen Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3 - Pt. 4

© thevoid99 2013

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